Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Appalachian Food

Jelly Bags


“Although you can buy jelly bags, they are easy things to improvise. I always use the washed and bleached out bags that Virginia hams come in, and you can also use the bags that hold popcorn rice. Just wash them well, and hang them in the sun to dry and bleach. If you want to make one, sew up the sides of a piece of pure white cotton so that it does not have a bottom seam, just side ones. When you are making jelly, hang the bag on a hook and let the juice…drip into a large glass jar or bowl. Some of the store-bought bags come with a frame for hanging the bag.”

—Edna Lewis, In Pursuit of Flavor


I’ve used a jelly bag in the past, but its been a long time. These days I take the easy route and use my handy dandy ricer to juice my berries and grapes.


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  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 12, 2018 at 2:28 am

    If you want “blue ribbon” jelly…The juice has to be dripped slow thru a jelly bag…either homemade or several layers of cheesecloth…My Mother preferred several layers of cheese cloth twisted and tied and let the juice drip slow thru it…Slow dripped jelly makes the clearest and prettiest jelly…Mom also used cheese cloth to eliminate some of the seeds when she made blackberry jam…her jam was the best I ever ate…I always preferred Blackberry jam over jelly…I loved her Apple jelly, grape jelly as well..She always made strawberry preserves, peach preserves apple sauce and apple butter…Yum…I’m starving for a biscuit and butter and one of the condiments…lol

  • Reply
    David W Newkirk
    October 9, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    Since I did not have a jelly bag, I bought a package of cloth diapers. They work great, are sturdy and can be washed clean.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 9, 2018 at 1:27 am

    I’ve used a “jelly bag” to squeeze the juice from cooked fruit. I used a washed, bleached bag our flour was purchased in. We didn’t purchase “Virginia Hams” on my Dyer–Choestoe, GA–farm. My Daddy made wonderful cured hams from the several hogs butchered after the weather got cold. He had his own “recipe” for what he put on the pork hams: salt, of course; and some brown sugar and I think some pepper–but I don’t know the proportions. I wish I had learned his techniques for curing hams. But now, of course, we don’t even “grow out’ pigs to butcher when they are large enough and the weather is cold enough! People from Gainesville and Atlanta were “regular customers” to come yearly to purchase their cured ham from my Daddy’s smokehouse. Wonderful memories; hard work, but happy family–and extremely self-sufficient!

  • Reply
    October 8, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    One of the things I loved to eat at my Granny’s was cobblers… when it was blackberry cobbler, she would use squeezing bags she made out of flour sacks they bought in 50 lb. bags .. she didn’t like those seeds in the cobbler…. just talking about cobbler makes me hungry . Yummy, warm out of the oven with a bit of vanilla ice cream .Black berry or peach cobbler , oh, the tastiness.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 8, 2018 at 11:56 am

    We’re jam lovers here! Don’t think I’ve ever made jelly except with bought grape juice.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I ha e nwver uswd one.

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    October 8, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I would gladly help empty the contents of the Virginia ham bag.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I watched Mommy make juice. She used a big piece of cotton cloth, usually a worn out bed sheet. She’d lay it on a big pot and fill the pot with whatever she was juicing then “gather”the cloth that was hanging outside. Then she would tie a big knot in it and start twisting. The more she twisted the tighter the makeshift bag became and the more juice was forced through.
    Later she got a china cap strainer that sits on a stand. That’s what I use now. In fact I am making apple butter today with one. It’s the perfect tool.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 8, 2018 at 7:43 am

    I never had an actual jelly bag, I used cheese cloth and later a ricer, like you. A ricer is a wonderful tool that can have many varying uses. I sure made a lot of jam and jelly in my time, but not so much any more. I’m always happy to get a gift jar once in a while form you and Granny, and that’s enough to meet my needs. I really can’t contemplate buying jelly, the home made if far superior!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 8, 2018 at 7:39 am

    I hate to admit this but I have never made jelly. I am a jam person and love the pieces of fruit floating in it. The thicker the better.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 8, 2018 at 6:15 am

    I remember my mother and her friend using them when they made jelly

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